Armco – American Valor – Valo


American Valor laid up at Toledo, Ohio, June 2019. Photo by Sam Hankinson


Build Information

Year Built: 1953

Builder: American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH

Hull #870

Registry: US 265621 [1953-2018] CAN 841767 [2018-Present]

IMO #5024738

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: January 24, 1953

Commissioned: June 6, 1953


The Armco was constructed in 1952 as a gearless bulk carrier by the American Shipbuilding Company at their Lorain, Ohio, shipyard for the Columbia Transportation Division of the Oglebay Norton Company of Cleveland, Ohio. She was a member of the AAA Class, or the “Pittsburgh” Class, originally designed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of U.S. Steel. The AAA Class ships were designed with refined hull streamlining and an asymmetrical stern to help improve water flow to the propeller. Adding to this, the rudder was slightly offset for more efficiency. All vessels of the class were originally 647’ long, 70’ wide, and 36’ deep with a cargo capacity of about 21,000 tons. The AAA ships were outfitted with oil fired boilers that provided steam for a large Westinghouse geared steam turbine, giving them around 7,000 HP. These engines pushed the ships along at around 16 MPH, making a round trip in just over 5 days, an improvement over the 6-7 day passages by older vessels. There were also some minor differences between the American Shipbuilding and Great Lakes Engineering Works units, those being that the Great Lakes Engineering ships had a slightly larger pilothouse but a slightly lower gross registered tonnage.

The Armco was one of eight ships built along the AAA class lines, the others being the identical Arthur M. AndersonCason J. CallawayPhilip R. ClarkeReserve and William Clay Ford, and the near-identical J. L. Mauthe, and Edward B. Greene. The Armco‘s forward cabins had appearance similar to her sister Edward B. Greene, except that the Armco possessed a two deck forward pilothouse.

The Armco was originally constructed as a gearless bulk carrier, being designed with large box holds to make her an efficient carrier in the iron ore trade. She was converted to a self-unloader in 1982, and her equipment consists of a single hold belt leading to an aft loop-belt system to a 250′ deck-mounted boom.


  • Bow thruster installed, 1970.
  • Lengthened by 120′, Fraser Shipyards, Superior, WI, 1974.
  • Converted to a self-unloader, Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 1982.

General Stats

As Constructed

Length Overall: 647′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 629’03”

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 36′

Loaded Draft: —

Capacity: 20,300 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 3 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 6-7-6]

Number of Hatches: 19 [Dimensions: 46’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore Trade

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After lengthening, 1974

Length Overall: 767′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 749’03”

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 36′

Loaded Draft: 27′

Capacity: 26,800 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 3 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 6-12-6]

Number of Hatches: 24 [Dimensions: 46’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore Trade

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After Conversion to Self-Unloader, 1982

Length Overall: 767′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 749’03”

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 36′

Loaded Draft: 27′

Capacity: 25,300 Tons

Vessel Type: Loop-Belt Self-Unloader

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Aft-Mounted; 260′

Number of Cargo Holds: 5 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 4-5-5-5-4]

Number of Hatches: 23 [Dimensions: 46’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

Engineering Equipment



Engine Type: Steam Turbine

Engine Manufacturer: Westinghouse Electric Co., Pittsburgh, PA

Engine Model: Double-Reduction Geared Steam Turbine

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 7700 SHP


Boiler Type: Oil-Fired Water Tube Boilers

Boiler Manufacturer: Foster-Wheeler, Baar, Switzerland

Boiler Size: 15466 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2

Repower – 2021

Engine Type: Diesel Engine

Engine Manufacturer: —

Engine Model: —

Number of Engines: —

Rated HP: —



Armco – 1953-1994

Owner: Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Armco – 1994-2006

Owner: Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Oglebay Norton Co., Marine Division, Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

American Valor – 2006-2018

Owner: Liberty Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY [American Steamship Co., GATX Corp.]

Operator: American Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Valo – 2018-2019

Owner: Algoma Central Corp., St. Catharines, ON

Operator: Algoma Central Corp.

Flag: Canada

Home Port: St. Catharines, ON

Valo – 2019-Present

Owner: Lower Lakes Towing LTD., Port Dover, ON [Rand Logistics]

Operator: Lower Lakes Towing

Flag: Canada

Home Port: St. Catharines, ON

Her Story

In 1952, the Columbia Transportation Division of the Oglebay Norton Company signed contracts with two shipyards to construct two new vessels of the AAA Class design. One would be nearly identical to the ships constructed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division, while the other, the Armco would have a more stylized forward end with a pilothouse design similar to her near sister Edward B. Greene, minus the Texas Deck Lounge.

The Armco was built in 1953 by the American Shipbuilding Company at their Lorain, Ohio, shipyard as a gearless bulk carrier for the Columbia Transportation Division. She was launched on January 24, 1953, entering service on June 6, 1953, departing Lorain bound for Superior, Wisconsin, to load iron ore.

During her early days, the Armco operated primarily in the iron ore trade, carrying ore from Silver Bay, Minnesota, to Toledo, Ohio.

In late 1974, the Armco was taken to Fraser Shipyards, in Superior, Wisconsin, where over the winter, she would be lengthened by 120′. She was placed in drydock, where she was then cut in half just aft of midship, and her stern section floated out of the drydock. The new mid-body was floated in and lined up with the bow, followed by the stern section. The sections were then welded together and a new, larger rudder was installed to handle the vessel’s larger size. She returned to service in early 1975.

On January 4, 1978, while traveling in ice on the Detroit River, the Armco struck the stern of the united States Steel steamer Irving S. Olds, holing herself three times above the waterline. The Armco turned around and headed back to Toledo for repairs.

In order to keep their newer vessels competitive, the Columbia Transportation Division embarked on a program to convert their 1950’s-era steamers into self-unloaders. The second vessel in the fleet to undergo the conversion, the Armco laid up at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for her conversion in late 1981. While in the shipyard, her cargo hold bottom was removed and new sloped sections were lowered through her cargo hatches and welded together. Conveyor belts running lengthwise of the ship were installed in the hold. A loop-belt elevator system was installed just forward of the aft deckhouse with a 260’ cargo boom to deliver the cargo to the dock. She returned to service in 1982 as a self-unloader.

During the economic downturn of the 1980’s, the Armco was laid up at Superior, Wisconsin, from October 6, 1984, through October 23, 1986. In October 1994, Oglebay Norton Company assumed full ownership of the Armco, after the Columbia Transportation Division was dissolved. The Oglebay Norton logo was applied to the bow of the ship as well as the stacks soon after the restructuring.

Oglebay Norton faced rough times in the early 2000’s, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 23, 2004. On June 6, 2006, Oglebay Norton announced that they had sold six of their remaining ships to American Steamship Company of Buffalo, New York for $120 Million. The Armco was included in the deal, and was renamed American Valor soon after. The Valor was the only one of the three steamers included in the deal to be painted into American Steamship hull colors.

The American Valor sailed two seasons for American Steamship Company before laying up for the final time for ASC on November 13, 2008 at Toledo, Ohio. She was moved to the TORCO Lakefront Docks in mid-2009.

In December 2017, the Valor and her fleetmates Adam E. Cornelius, American Victory, and Buffalo were sold to Algoma Central Corporation of St. Catharines, Ontario. The American Valor was reflagged Canadian and her name shortened to Valo. She became the longest Canadian-flagged Great Lakes freighter. The Valor‘s future looked bleak, as she was too long to transit the Welland Canal or St. Lawrence Seaway, and was of steam propulsion. She was moved to the old Interlake Iron Dock in Toledo in late 2018.

The Valo was sold again in November of 2019 to Rand Logistics’ Canadian subsidiary Lower Lakes Towing, who announced their plans to refurbish and repower her to return to service in 2021 to replace their aging Mississagi. She was moved in December 2019 to the Hocking Valley slip in Toledo, being rafted to the laid-up Manistee. This move was made to transfer equipment from the Manistee, which was awaiting an opening at the scrapyard. The American Valor was to be towed to Erie, Pennsylvania in late 2020 to be drydocked for inspection, painting, and removal of her steam plant, after which she was to be repowered with a new diesel engine in Ashtabula, OH. The project was since put on hold following Rand Logistics’ acquisition of American Steamship Co. in early 2020. American Valor remains laid up in Toledo, and her fate is currently unknown.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 19, 2023


Bawal, Raymond A., Jr. Twilight of the Great Lakes Steamer. Inland Expressions, 2009. Pp. 65-69.

Berry, Sterling P. “Armco”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 31 July 2020.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.5.

Wharton, George. “American Valor”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online, N.d. Accessed 31 July 2020.